Beautility, an exhibition of photographs by Jethro Marshall, has just opened in Bristol.
Based in West Dorset, Jethro Marshall is an image-maker who merges landscape and architecture, creating typologies of South West England. Aiming to reframe the depiction of the Wessex countryside, he describes his work as ‘Anti bucolic/ Pro rural’.
The work displayed at Serchia Gallery includes five series of black and white photographs. These typologies, presented separately and in combination, feature vernacular architecture covering the tenets of rural life — agriculture, community, tourism and faith. The typologies are presented without judgement or drama, their similarities and nuances amplified when presented alongside one another. The lack of concession to decorative design or whimsy plant these ‘modern’ structures as quiet, utilitarian features that sit back in our landscape, fit for purpose, without pretence, elegant in their modest individuality. With obvious reference to the Bechers, these collections of structures tell stories not of relics from an industrial past at the end of their lifespan, but of buildings in part-time use: measured, oblique documentary recordings rather than rigorous architectural portraits.
The exhibition sees work from the last four years come together in a gallery context, the first time the images have been printed and shared. They are one part architectural, one part sociologial, but mainly the presentation of an enthusiast’s collection — the aim of sharing the beauty of the under-documented, the restrained and the municipal.
Under the moniker West Country Modern, Marshall’s work has been only presented in book-form to date, self-publishing six books since 2019. These include Farm Follows Function about agricultural buildings, This is Hardcore documenting roads, and Halls & Oats — a collection of village halls.